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At least 25 dead as Ukraine president blames protesters

Another 241 people have been hospitalised in fierce clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Kiev.

Riot police storm Independence Square
Riot police storm Independence Square
Image: AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

AT LEAST 25 people have died in fierce clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Kiev, the health ministry said in a statement this morning.

Another 241 people have been hospitalised, including 79 policemen and five journalists, the statement said.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych said anti-government protesters had “crossed the limits” by taking to the streets to try to oust him from power.

“The leaders of the opposition have disregarded the principle of democracy according to which we obtain power through elections and not on the street … they have crossed the limits by calling for people to take up arms,” he said in an address to the nation.

It is a flagrant violation of the law and those who are responsible will face justice.

image

(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Yanukovych’s address came as riot police and protesters clashed at Kiev’s Independence Square, the heart of anti-government protests for the past three months since he ditched an EU deal in favour of closer ties to Russia.

A day and night of bloody clashes saw flames engulf the square which resembled a war zone, as police stormed the camps of protesters.

The violence surged after the crisis appeared to have abated in recent days with concessions from both sides.

image

(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Yanukovych had granted amnesty to protesters, who in exchange vacated public buildings they had occupied.

Rally

However thousands of protesters rallied outside parliament yesterday to press lawmakers to strip Yanukovych of his powers in a demonstration which slid into all-out clashes.

Yanukovych accused the opposition of calling “radicals on Maidan to an armed struggle” before lawmakers “could approve laws that would change Ukraine.”

Maidan is the local name for Independence Square.

image

(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

“They blocked parliament … and demanded all the power for the opposition, and immediately.

Without a mandate from the people, these so-called politicians tried to take power by violating the constitution through violence and murder.

Yanukovych said the opposition must either “distance itself from radicals” or “admit that it supports them”.

“In that case we will speak to them differently.”

- © AFP, 2014

Photos: 13 people killed in Kiev after police storm protest camp >

Read: Ukraine could be on the verge of civil war >

Explainer: What exactly is going on in Ukraine >

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